Independent councillor, Sean O’ Brien, has stated that the responsibility now lies with the Fianna Fail group on Offaly County Council to secure a reversal of the decision to designate Leamonaghan Bog as an area deemed suitable for wind farm development.
“The eight Fianna Fáil Councillors voted against a motion to have Leamonaghan Bog excluded as an area suitable for wind farm development, in spite of fierce local opposition,” said Cllr O’Brien.
“I hear all kinds of excuses as to why that decision cannot be reversed at the council meeting next Friday. I will be pushing for a vote on this important matter and Fianna Fail simply have to find a way to resolve this matter.
“This issue attracted a record of 2,300 submissions from local people and it also attracted submissions both nationally and internationally. A council’s first responsibility is to represent the people and if we cannot do this then we have no function at all.
“There was a serious drafting error in the original plan which wrongly described the area. This meant that the public missed the opportunity to object to the proposal at two vital stages and now that they have objected in record numbers they are being told that their objections cannot be heard. This is simply not acceptable and I will be objecting in the strongest manner possible at the meeting on Friday.
“There is a target in the draft plan for 466.3MW of electricity to be produced over the next seven years. This is a big target for Offaly but it can be achieved without a wind farm on Leamonaghan Bog. We are also told that any application for a wind farm ‘will be subject to the full rigours of the planning process’.
“This is nonsense talk as Bord Na Mona do not have to apply to Offaly County Council for permission as they can apply directly to An Bord Pleanála. It is high time that we as councillors stamped our authority on the development plan and use our vote to represent the people.”
Offaly County Council will consider the local authority chief executive’s report on the draft development plan on Friday.
The chief executive has rejected calls for a ban on wind turbines at Leamonaghan (also known as Lemanaghan) Bog.
The bog is part of a large area of west Offaly currently designated as ‘open for consideration’ for wind energy and its owner, Bord na Mona, hopes to install 17 turbines there.
At a stormy meeting of the council earlier this year, councillors voted by nine votes to eight to include the bog in the draft wind farm zone, with the exception of a small portion nearest the Leamonaghan monastic site and 500m north of the disused Banagher railway line.
Bord na Mona last week received approval from An Bord Pleanala for a 21-turbine wind farm elsewhere in west Offaly at Derrinlough.
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